Arsenic is an element in the Earth’s crust, and is present in water, air, and soil. It exists in two forms, with the inorganic form considered to be the more toxic. The FDA has been monitoring the levels of arsenic in foods for decades and in 2011, after new methods to differentiate the forms of arsenic became available, the agency expanded its testing to help better understand and manage possible arsenic-related risks associated with food consumption in the United States.
Rice has higher levels of inorganic arsenic than other foods, in part because as rice plants grow, the plant and grain tend to absorb arsenic more readily than other food crops. In April 2016, the FDA proposed an action level, or limit, of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal. This level, which is based on the FDA’s assessment of a large body of scientific information, seeks to reduce infant exposure to inorganic arsenic. The agency also has developed advice on rice consumption for pregnant women and the caregivers of infants.
- FDA Statement on Testing and Analysis of Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products
- News Release: FDA Proposes Limit for Inorganic Arsenic in Infant Rice Cereal
The FDA is taking steps to reduce arsenic in infant rice cereal, a leading source of exposure to arsenic in infants.
- Consumer Update: Seven Things Pregnant Women and Parents Need to Know About Arsenic in Rice and Rice Cereal
This news feature is for consumers interested in knowing about arsenic in rice and rice products and advises that pregnant women and infants eat a well-balanced diet, which can include rice along with other grains.
- Updated Questions & Answers: Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products
Proposed Action Level and Scientific Information
- Proposed Action Level for Inorganic Arsenic in Infant Rice Cereal (Draft Guidance for Industry)
The FDA is proposing a limit or “action level” of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal, which corresponds to a level proposed by the European Commission for rice destined for the production of food for infants and young children.
- Action Level Supporting Document
This document presents the background rationale for the FDA’s proposed action level for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereals.
- Action Level Supporting Document
- Risk Assessment: Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products
This document provides a description of the FDA’s mathematical model for lung and bladder cancer outcomes associated with consumption of inorganic arsenic in rice and rice products, and a review of the scientific literature for certain potential non-cancer effects.
FDA is accepting public comments on the draft guidance, supporting document, and risk assessment starting April 6, 2016. See the Federal Register Notice for additional information on how to comment.
The FDA has conducted extensive testing of inorganic arsenic in rice, rice products and other foods commonly eaten by infants and toddlers.
- Analytical Results from Inorganic Arsenic in Rice Cereals for Infants, Non-rice Infant Cereal and Other Foods Commonly Eaten by Infants and Toddlers (XLSX, 79KB)
Analytical Results from Sampling, Posted April 2016
- Analytical Results from Inorganic Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products Sampling (PDF: 767KB)
Posted September 2013
FDA Statement on Testing and Analysis of Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products
The levels FDA found in its testing are too low to cause immediate or short-term adverse health effects. FDA’s work going forward will center on long-term risk and ways to manage it with a focus on long-term exposure. September 2, 2013
FDA Statement on Arsenic in Brown Rice Syrup[ARCHIVED]
February 17, 2012
- Consumer Update: FDA Explores Impact of Arsenic in Rice [ARCHIVED]
This news feature is intended for consumers interested in knowing about arsenic in rice and rice products. September 6, 2013
- Blog: On Farms and in Labs, FDA and Partners Are Working to Get Answers on Arsenic in Rice
Discussion of the next step for FDA, assessing the potential health risk from long-term exposure to the arsenic in rice and foods made with this grain. September 12, 2013
Blog: Learning First-Hand About the Challenges of Rice Farming
Former FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., recounts her experience touring farms and research facilities to better understand safety issues and the challenges of rice farming. September 6, 2013